Everything I Needed to Know About Politics I Learned from Facebook
Social Media is the wave of the future. You don’t have to be a blogger or a blog follower or even a blog agnostic to recognize that the cool kids are hanging out at places like Facebook, or MySpace. Have you heard about Twitter – the pseudo instant conversation maker that mashes up web, IM and SMS into something that has become the tool of instant conversation and marketing? Twitter is heavily used by the tech web community, a typically left-of-center political demographic, and last month took the SXSW Interactive conference by storm, tripling the number of daily users from 20k to 60k in 3 days. (By the way, Dan Rather keynoted and everyone adored him like he was a god – if that gives you a good idea of the political slant of attendees).
Some people see these services as cool websites that kids and young adults play at. Smart people see them as the key to the presidency. Folks like Presidential hopeful Barack Obama have serious social media allies such as Bluestate Digital who created social media tools like My.BarackObama.com. Mitt Romney’s actions have led to a close tie with the conservative side of social media, bloggers, etc.
I’m about to make a bold statement – one that I will probably be criticized for. At the end of the day, the race for President is not going to come down to who looks tallest or who has the right message on the issues. Obviously that will play a part in securing support. However, the message to the candidates is that if you expect to win, you must embrace social media. Some might argue that all the candidates at this point are doing that, but I would say that the candidates who truly understand the grassroots movements at places like MySpace and Facebook, have an advantage over the candidates who simply look at the landscape and say, “We need to tackle that group over there” without embracing and fully endorsing that culture.
Social media is a generational thing, and the vote cannot be secured simply by speeches. Netizens probably won’t pay a lot of attention. However, Giuliani might just notice that there are over 1500 members in the Facebook group America’s Mayor, “America’s President. Giuliani 2008” and that there are 57K+ members plus in the “Anti-Hillary Clinton for President ’08” group.
James asked me to blog while he was gone because he felt like the areas where I write on Technosailor – the areas of technology and new media – intersect in an important way with politics. I think he’s on to something, though you might want me to go back home. Regardless, my postings over the next few days (which won’t be nearly as prolific as James’) will hopefully bring some of the discussions in my area of interest to bear in the political and cultural world to the forefront.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my topics. I have pretty tough skin so feel free to attack my views or topics. I can take it. 😉